Ken Doherty edged into the final round of qualifying for the Shanghai Masters after a 5-4 victory over Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
The veteran Dubliner has enjoyed a decent run of form at the start of this campaign and, despite a strong effort from his inexperienced opponent to force a decider from 4-2 down, he was able to claim victory at the death.
Triumph tomorrow over Marcus Campbell would mean that the former world champion will have qualified for all three ranking events so far this season – important in his quest to keep his place among the top 32 in the world rankings.
It turned out to be an excellent day for the legends of the game as both Steve David and Jimmy White also enjoyed successes in the penultimate qualifying stage.
Indeed, it was a much easier affair for the elder statesmen as a pair of 5-1 wins over Michael White for Jimmy and Alfie Burden for Steve were more than enough to impressively seal a safe passage through.
The ‘Nugget’ and ‘Whirlwind’ are the only players on the circuit over the age of 50 but are still well capable of mixing it with the younger generations and are actually still battling to stay inside the top 48.
There were plenty of close matches today, though, as Anthony McGill, Aditya Mehta, Rod Lawler, Jamie Burnett, Robert Milkins and Mark Joyce all won in a final frame decider – the latter against the turgid Rory McLeod post midnight.
Indian Mehta is seeking to qualify for his maiden ranking event having come so close earlier in the campaign to reaching the Wuxi Classic, falling at the last hurdle, while Lawler is enjoying a wondrous couple of months after coming through Q-School to regain his place on the Main Tour and subsequently winning 13 out of his 16 matches so far played in the 2012/13 season.
Englishmen Nigel Bond, Davids Grace and Gilbert, Jimmy Robertson, Barry Pinches and Dave Harold all advanced further but possibly the greatest performance so far this week has been from Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon.
The Thai twister has surged through the field, winning all three of his matches 5-0, including a drubbing of tour stalwart Mike Dunn in the latest round.
The only man left standing in TT’s way is Jamie Cope and it would be hard to bet against the 18 year-old having been such a dominant force already in this event.